Media Releases | 16th Feb, 2006

Melbourne facing massive water drop from climate change

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Climate change will result in less water and poorer quality in Melbourne’s already stressed rivers unless urgent action is taken to revive their health, the state’s leading green group has warned.

Environment Victoria healthy rivers campaign director Paul Sinclair said climate change will hit already degraded rivers hard and will have a major impact on securing of clean water supplies.

According to recent scientific studies by the Victorian Government:

  • Only 1% of the Marybrnong River is in good condition
  • 46% of the Yarra is in poor or very poor condition;
  • 42% of Geelong’s Barwon River is in poor or very poor condition;
  • 55% of the Moorabool River near Ballarat is in poor or very poor condition;
  • 45% of the Werribee River is in poor or very poor condition.

“Healthy rivers secure healthy water supplies – poor water management plus climate change is bad news for rivers and for us”, Dr Sinclair said.

“Sick rivers mean our families will be swimming in dirty water flowing into Port Phillip Bay and facing an increase in water-borne diseases.”

Scientific research predicts climate change will lead to a dramatic increase in fish extinctions unless action is taken. Recreational fishing generates $1.3 billion dollars for the Victorian economy and directly provides 27,000 jobs in the state.

“Anyone who has fished, boated or swum near Melbourne needs to be concerned about climate change. We must put the water we save back into rivers and make big cuts to greenhouse pollution to protect our quality of life.”

Dr Sinclair said Melbourne had done a great job saving water but more needed to be done.

“Right now our rivers and waterways are under threat because we take too much water out and put too much pollution back in. The Government must increase Melbourne’s water-saving target and invest in more conservation measures. Melburnians already save more than the Government’s 15% target.”

“Much stronger water-saving targets need to be set for agriculture which uses about 50% of water resources in the Central region that includes Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne”.

The impact of climate change on our water supply and health of our rivers will be examined at a public forum Of Drought and Flooding Rains at the Sustainable Living Festival this weekend.

It will feature a panel of experts featuring Dr Sinclair and:

  • CSIRO scientist Dr Roger Jones explaining the science of climate change and its effects on Melbourne’s water supply.
  • Sixth-generation commercial fisherman Henry Jones on the death of the Coorong and the loss of once-common fish species from the Murray. “The fish I used to catch every day are now little more than a memory here. It’s outrageous that we’ve let a national icon come to this.’’
  • Australian Conservation Foundation president Ian Lowe on the solutions to climate change. “Australia’s greenhouse pollution is spiraling out of control. But by embracing clean energy technology – such as wind and solar power – we can power our homes, factories and businesses while massively reducing greenhouse pollution.’’

The free forum Of Droughts and Flooding Rains is on 12.45-2.30pm Saturday February 18 at BMW Edge, Federation Square.